This is largely owed to Adam X, since he never eased-up and saw his hard style through consequently – as DJ and organizer, as label owner of Sonic Groove and, not least, as musician who publishes albums and EPs on a regular basis, which mirror the current electronic scene perfectly. Adam X, born in New York City, residing in Berlin, is not searching for trends – he is setting them.
How do you experience the renaissance of EBM/Industrial pioneers in the Techno context these days?
I think it’s great that the parallel has finally been crossed. It’s an awesome feeling to push something so hard for so long and watch it all come to fruition. I especially love pushing the masters of the music like Eric and Rhys into the Techno world. They’re innovators in electronic music and they deserve to be heard not only in one scene but in many.
„Eric van Wonterghem and Rhys Fulber deserve to be heard not only in one scene but in many.“
What do you think: what lead to this new open-mindedness in the Techno scene in recent years?
It’s hard to put my finger on why it went this route. It started to creep up slowly here in Berlin back in the earlier part of the decade with artists like Ancient Methods, Orphx, Perc and myself. Harder edged Techno was lacking innovation at the turn of the millennium and a slower sound of minimal Techno and Tech-House dominated the scene for nearly two thirds of the aught decade. I never really understood how Techno could go soft for so long. I knew if I kept pushing harder sounds, it would definitely come back again. So he were are in 2019 and it’s been going strong again since 2010 with no signs of letting up.
You’re a real big fan of acts such as Click Click, Clock DVA or Dopplereffekt. Today, you’re friends with many of them. What is it like for you, playing gigs with Rhys and hanging out with him and all the other heroes?
It’s actually amazing to not only know these artists but to release music and in the case of someone like Rhys become great friends with them. I thank Blush Response for the Rhys connection. It started with Blush playing me Rhys’s solo unreleased music in his studio two years ago. I was immediately hooked and he made the connection between Rhys and I which escalated quickly into a strong bond. Then there are my friends like Terence Fixmer, Douglas McCarthy and Eric van Wonterghem whose friendships I go back with 15 years. Eric is my closest friend from the old guard. We work very tightly together for years. He does all the mastering for my label for a very long time and he is only living 20 minutes from me.
I often joke with my friend, fellow artist Reade Truth, who used to work in my old record store with me back in NYC. He is the one that turned me on to all the EBM bands. Back in the early aughts when I released Click Click and the Sector project from Dean Dennis of Clock DVA on my label, he was shocked that I just released music of two of his big influences. Then soon after I brought Eric van Wonterghem to NYC for a gig in 2004 and so introduced him to another one of his favorites. Jokingly I told Reade back two years ago “how do you like me now?”, when I announced to him that I had Fixmer/McCarthy and Rhys Fulber singles back to back. I like joking with him on this because it took him years to convince me to listen to EBM/Industrial music. I was very close-minded to other styles of electronic music when Techno was peaking in innovation back in the early to mid 90s. Though I’m nearly 20 years hooked on Industrial/EBM, there is a nearly ten years gap prior in my music career where I had a blind eye turned on it.
I definitely have regrets about that but at same point I don’t think there was the space to fit it in back then. For me it came and it all fell into place at the right time.
„For me this kind of music came and it all fell into place at the right time.“
You are a pioneer in the Techno scene, successful and quite active still, as DJ and label owner. What kept you going all the years? And, in your eyes, what’s the biggest difference when comparing your early days to now?
Love for the music, past and present, keeps me going. DJing never gets old or boring for me and the inspiration I get from playing music to people on big sound systems inspires me to create music and run the label.
The differences of now and then back in the early 90s is stark. For starters, the internet was not in the hands of the public until the mid part of the decade. So the world was nowhere as connected as it is presently. This left a lot more to imagine when you’d hear music and the artists behind it. The music more so in Techno was also completely faceless as there weren’t bands playing on stage. A lot of producers making Techno were not DJs or performers either. So there was much more mystique to the music and the scene itself. You couldn’t google to see what someone looked like or follow an artist on social media.
„Every place had its own sound where now the music is much more global sounding.“
There were a few fanzines and magazines back then and many underground music publications like Frontline in Germany were all in German or in the language of the country they were from. If you liked underground music you’d have to search out for it in local music shops and if you were out of luck then you had to play detective and find a shop somewhere in the world who could mail you a music catalog to order from with no chance of a sound clip. It was really such a different time from now. Even the music was much more regional in sound. For instance, EBM which was very big in Frankfurt back in late 1980s, early 90s had a much different sound than its Belgian counterparts. Same with Techno and styles coming from Detroit, Germany, NYC and so on. Every place had its own sound where now the music is much more global sounding. Back in the days you could almost always tell what city, country it was from. It’s much harder to hear a new song now and say “oh that sounds like it’s from Belgium”.
What’s the electronic scene in the US like today?
In the mid 90s in America, underground electronic music in various forms was hitting nearly all the States. It was seemingly on course to become on the level it was in Europe already for several years. Then, in the end of the 90s, these multi state/city scenes started to die off. The main reason was the Federal Government and the Police were cracking down heavily on underground and illegal parties due to the high rate of ecstasy drug use. In many smaller cities across the US, nightclubs had already very restrictive closing hours, mostly in between 1AM and 2AM which gave rise to all night outlaw parties. With the underground parties getting shut down, it made it next to impossible for promoters to book bigger international artists in a legal club setting. This had a massive effect of turning new people onto new music that couldn’t be heard on the radio or TV. So the scene went into a downward spiral, not really ever recovering on the level it once was. The good thing in the past several years: the underground music scene has been growing in many cities across the States again. This time around it’s on a much smaller scale than it was back in the 90s with the exception of NYC which has completely exploded this past decade. NYC has a very big Techno scene at the moment and is more closer to the European way of Techno parties.
|Three favourite songs:
1. Black Sabbath Into The Void: First song where I connected thoughts of music with space travel, a huge theme for me in many of my productions.
2. Kraftwerk Numbers: Listening to it since 1982 and it still blows my mind.
3. Strafe Set It Off: Electro from NYC, 1984. Soundtrack of growing up in Brooklyn in the 1980s.
Best album in 2018:
Rhys Fulber Your Dystopia, My Utopia: The music composition, sound design and rhythm construction is second to none. A great album from start to finish. All killer, no filler!
Most promising newcomer:
Though he has been around for a little bit longer, Crystal Geometry which I just released on my label. I had only heard his music for the first time back this Summer at a live gig of his at Tresor. He sent me some of his more EBM style to check and I was instantly hooked. I love the old school vibes mixed with a very contemporary production and sound design.